Monday, November 26, 2012

The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club

Charles, has been a dedicated soul boy from a tender age. In fact, he was raised on the sounds of sweet soul:
"My father came over from Guyana in the West Indies and he brought a load of records over with him. There was always Ray Charles playing in the house, The Platters, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding. My Dad would play all this old stuff. In fact I was very close to getting called Otis when I was born! One of my earliest memories is my mum and dad dancing around the kitchen to Ray Charles' I've Got A Woman. I remember the look of sheer joy and exhilaration on their faces. I was hooked!"
After achieving mainstream success with his poetry, and then acting and TV presenting roles in cult sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf, Robot Wars and TV's longest running soap opera Coronation Street - as the taxi driving, soul music fanatic Lloyd Mullaney - Craig's reputation as a fun, funk loving soul boy was cemented with the public. In 2001, as the BBC prepared to launch the new digital radio station BBC 6 Music, he was asked to present a show. Over ten years on from the d├ębut broadcast, the show is now the award winning station's longest running, and has the biggest share of audience too, a very impressive result for what was originally thought of as a 'niche' programme!
It wasn't long before promoters of club nights and festivals were asking for Craig to bring his 'Trunk Of Funk' out on the road, and countless DJ slots across the UK and into Europe included; Mostly Jazz Festival, The Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Kendal Calling and The Big Chill, Vintage at Goodwood and even the world renowned Glastonbury Festival. It was only natural that Craig and Freestyle Records would join forces to bring forth this album album - the closest thing there is to having Craig come round your house and start the party off! Asked to sum up his feelings about his first DJ compilation album and the vibrant global music scene it reflects Craig said:
 "This CD contains 19 rip snorting, bass drum banging, brass blaring booga-bloody-loo, big beats, bass lines and blooming brilliant vocals. From as far away as Australia with The Bamboo's ultimate party starter Amen Brother, to The Excitements coming out of Barcelona and some cover versions that have surely got to be better than the real thing, like Nostalgia 77 & Alice Russell'stake on The White Stripes '7 Nation Army'. And T Bird and the Breaks 'The Clap Hands Song', not to mention The Incredible Bongo Bands' skin shredding version of The Rolling Stones 'Satisfaction'. Bands like Smoove & Turrell from the north-east and The Haggis Horns. All these tunes are guaranteed to tear the roof off any venue festival or house party in the known universe.....

1. Amen Brother - The Bamboos
2. Wait a Minute - The Excitements
3. The Clap Hands Song - T Bird & The Breaks
4. Hard Work - Smoove & Turrell
5. Seven Nation Army - Nostalgia 77 ft Alice Russell
6. Insane In The Membrane - Prince Fatty ft Horseman
7. A Time For - Lack Of Afro ft Wayne Gidden
9. Killing - The Apples
10. Singalong - Treva Whateva
11. More Than Dancing -  Federation of the Disco Pimp
16. The Snake - Al Wilson
17. Shaft In Africa - The Mighty Showstoppers
18. Dragging Me Down - Speedometer ft Martha High

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Zion Door

From Roots Lab Intl and Springline Jamaica Recordings comes another fine release, this time featuring the melodic reggae sounds of Steve Steppa on a new 11-track album (available on DDL and CD). It begins with ‘Another Morning’, kicking off with a slow drum intro before going into the classic roots sounds of percussive keyboard and gentle reggae rhythm. ‘Don’t You Vex’ has a lilting musical style which is more akin to lovers’ rock and its predecessor rhythms and introduces some intriguing vocal manipulation that makes itself known on other tracks too. A couple of tracks are accompanied by good old-school ‘versions’ – ‘Version Tree’ in particular standing as a tight rhythm track with Steve Steppa on melodica over the top of the original backing track. ‘Version Zone’ is a serious dub, while the curious concept of ‘Urban Camping’ introduces an atmospheric keyboard sound to a brooding melody. The album closes with a delightful ‘Zion Door’, sounding very much like something from the dawn of reggae, with a structure suggesting the earliest influences of mento and calypso. With excellent production from Gibsy Rhodes throughout, this is new reggae in the old tradition with an influence from classic-era soul, and nothing wrong with that combination at all.
JohnFenwick (                                                                                              Steve Steppa: Zion Door, release November 5th, Roots Lab Intl / ComeFiConquer Publishing


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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ripple - Sure Is Funky

Ripple were an interracial Michigan soul-funk band who are best know for their 1973 hit 'I Don't Know What It Is but It Sure Is Funky' which peaked in the US Pop charts at #67 and the US R&B chart at #11. It has also proved popular as a break beat among the hip hop fraternity being sampled by the likes of  Special Ed on ‘I Got It Made’, Kid ‘N’ Play’s‘Rollin’ With' and on a remixed version of ‘Everything’ by Mary J. Blige in 1997.
They were something of an eclectic bunch with an array of influences that left their debut self titled album sounding more like a hastily put together compilation as it drifts from kick ass funk through soulful leanings, akin to a less distinctive variant of Stevie Wonder to pop inclined tones, which all in all left them neither too raw nor too slick. Maybe they would have been better to stick with funk as the other popular song from this set ‘Funky Song’, another heavily sampled classic (Ice Cube’s 'The Death', MCLyte’s 'Funky Song' and many more), proves for when they are in this vein they really create a groove to make ya move with a vibe that does exactly what it says on the tin.

1   You Were Right On Time
2   Be My Friend
3   I Don't Know What It Is But It Sure Is Funky
4   I’ll Be Right There Trying
5   Get Off
6   See The Light In The Window
7   A Funky Song
8   Willie, Pass The Water
9    Dance, Lady Dance
10  Ripplin'

100% Dynamite Xmas Party

Soul Jazz Records is having its Xmas party on  Saturday 8th December 2012 

100% Dynamite returns to Electrowerkz for one glorious night only of Reggae, Funk, Soul, Dancehall, Dub and more. Soul Jazz Sound System DJs + Guest + MC Oxman. 

Tickets are £5 only. Open 9pm-4am

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Martha High - Soul Overdue

Martha High's impeccable soul credentials are beyond question. She was a member of  The Jewels, who in the mid 60s were part of The James Brown Revue, and also released two 45s produced by James Brown. Although The Jewels eventually disbanded, Martha continued to be a part of the live James Brown show for the next 30 years! It's Martha's voice that graces JB classics such as 'Say It Loud - I'm Black & I'm Proud' 'The Big Payback' amongst many others.
Soul Overdue is an incredibly apt title for a project that has been over 40 years in the making, and it shows that Martha's voice remains undiminished, her youthful vocal clarity and style quite simply dazzles, as she shows a host of young pretenders the way it should be done!
Kicking off with a high octane rendition of ‘No More Heartaches’, Martha and Speedometer prove to be a perfect match as the bands super tight musicianship provides a formidable backdrop to her searing, soaring vocals. In comparison, the more subtle, tender moments on this album, in particular the heart wrenching version of Etta James' 'I'd Rather Go Blind' had already been proven as a show stopper live, and now that it has been committed to tape, with The Voxettes added backing vocals, and Andy Fairclough's masterful organ playing, it must surely be one of the finest examples of contemporary bluesy soul around.
The entire album has garnered masses of love & support and seems destined to be one of the most exciting & vital new soul releases for many years. 

"An album that captures one of soul music’s most powerful voices. 4 Stars!"  Mojo magazine

"A beautifully measured album full of vim and vigour" Blues & Soul magazine

"Martha was good enough for ‘The Godfather’ – she’s good enough for me. Funky heaven!"  Peter Young, Jazz FM

Mungo's Hi Fi ft Afrikan Simba, Dixie Peach & Charlie P - Leave The Oil Alone / Skidip It Up Dub

A Mungo's Hi Fi Ft Afrikan Simba & Dixie Peach - Leave The Oil Alone
B Mungo's Hi Fi Ft Charlie P - Skidip It Up Dub

This is a rare combination track from two legends of the UK roots scene, offering a deep meditation on the madness of the global oil industry and the specific evils it is perpetrating in Simba's home country, Nigeria. The flip side features an exclusive dub of Charlie P's ‘Skidip’ on the same riddim.

Label: Scotch Bonnet Records
Format: 7” Vinyl | Digital Formats
Release Date: 12th November 2012

Digitaldubs ft. YT – Sound System Culture

A Digitaldubs ft. YT – Sound system culture
B Digitaldubs – Dub echoes riddim

With rough and tuff production from South America's number one sound, YT's eulogy to reggae culture will send dibby dibby DJ’s running. The B-side features the clean riddim track. Warning - this track could sound naff if not played on a real soundsystem!

Label: Muzamba
Format: 7” Vinyl
Release Date: 12th November 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sahra Indio The Tru I


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Late summer dusky vibes on offer here with the recently released 13 tracker from Sahra Indio
A lavish project and brainchild of the community arena’s Digikal Roots who undertook the mammoth task along side Sahra of presenting a uniformed and flowing set of songs yet at the same time giving the listener a varied blend of styles to be entertained with. The album’s rise to release took the long way round, to say that it went round the houses is an understatement , it’s been round the world and back with various musicians and engineers all adding their own spice to the blend. Sahra’s vocal delivery throughout the album never faultering, in fact I would be bold enough to state that she has probably the strongest and - in contrast- the smoothest singing voice in the current arena.

What is pleasant to hear in these songs is the use of traditional instruments that you would hear in rock or pop music for instance on ‘Finish Line’ which has a short but effective lead guitar solo one wouldn’t expect to hear on reggae, then again we didn’t expect to hear that on Bob Marley albums did we.. also the drum track leans towards the traditional rock structure but fits perfectly along side the message from Sahra during this piece; never give up, keep pushing yourself forward and give thanks for the opertunity to do so, the song structure itself lending an ear towards the commercial positiveness of Morcheeba style yet staying firmly in reggae territory complete with a warm organ wash throughout the mix, this track should be a single.
In contrast yet strangely in uniform is the track ‘Testify’ which contains lead guitar almost throughout the mix yet blended deeper, a tune featuring a wonderful jazz inspired saxophone joyfully playing in tandem with the guitar, there are flutes, acoustic guitars and an up tempo one drop riddim track full of percussive elements and touches, an uplifting and very sincere love song with Sahra professing her love for her other half and again, sung with absolute authority.

‘Right Fight’ ; a semi acoustic number underpinned throughout by a nyahbingi riddim track and an acoustic guitar which regularly surfaces to give lead lick duties, throughout the mix is a warm synth wash giving the track it’s film score ambience, Sahra’s thought provoking lyrics in protest stance against the negative system we find ourselves living along side, unashamedly reminding us of what we are all aware of and what we as a society have let happen. If there is ever a documentary film worthy of a tune from today’s reggae and world arena it’s this tune.
Another up tempo one drop calling is the ‘very reminiscent of’ Peter Tosh vibed ‘Pro Marijuana’ with it’s more traditional reggae sound both in riddim track and back in the mix keyboard work and strong bass run, one of those tunes that sway ya body in fine style and at the same time has you singing along with the chorus, an uplifting and positive nod to the herb. The song  finishing with that late summer dusky ambience of crickets chirping in the bush, the original Bush Mama in control of the soul.

One of the star tracks of the show for me both in music and in lyrics is ‘I’m Not The Only One’ and It’s dub version, Engineered by foundation producer Don Fe this is a pure steppers delight, a from time reggae vibe and mix. I have to admit a fondness for Don Fe mixing, when he’s left alone to dub up a mix he rarely fails to deliver and on the dub cut of  ‘Im Not The Only Dub’ he springs straight into Prince Jammy territory pushing the vintage envelope; riddim snippet out - then in – then out – then in at the start of the track and a dub cut resplendent with that instantly recognizable ‘abrupt stop’echo style ( I refer to albums such as Johnny Osbourne in dub and Uhuru in dub from the early 80s) he uses sounds awesome,with vintage organ washes and reverbed percussion elements panning  throughout Don Fe reminds us of where he’s at in the arena.

The ‘Eastern Aroma’ riddim is deployed for the track ‘DNA’ an instantly recognizable Digikal Roots riddim track, another  Digikal Roots riddim is used on ‘Natural Living’ with it’s trademark old style Digi Roots sound mix complete with brass stabs and it’s ‘Impact’sound clarity, a rolling bass line and vintage organ gluing the whole thing together, this is an easy going Sunday morning skanker.

Finishing the album off is the acoustical breezy ‘At The Awa Bar’ a song that seals the late summer dusky ambience in fine round the campfire style pre gig gathering. Lovely.
A feel good album with a sincere message. Commercially it’s gold. This is an album tailor made for the ordinary reggae fan, there is a style and fashion to suit many an ear.

Gibsy Rhodes (SpringlineJamaica)